Most homeowners ask the question, “Do I have what it takes to paint the exterior of my house?” After doing a little research, they usually decide that they lack both the tools and skills necessary to get the job done correctly. And that’s okay. Professional painters exist for a reason. Read on to learn more about the job's requirements so that you can make such an assessment for yourself.
Tools and Supplies Required for Exterior Painting
Odds are, you have painted a room inside your home. Tackling the exterior of your house requires additional tools and supplies. You will need, at a minimum, the following:
- Various paint brushes and sprayer (optional) - type dependent upon the products you use
- Pressure washer - if necessary
- Ladders - height dependent upon your home
- Drop cloths or tarps
- Painter’s tape
- Sand paper
- Cleaners - Type dependent upon existing finish and state of exterior
- Putty knife
You may need other tools and supplies, too, depending on the state, size and architectural detail of your home. These purchases can add up. Also consider that you will use the tools and supplies once, then store them in the garage or another area, where they will sit unused for years with the exception of the occasional touch-up. A professional painter supplies everything needed to get the job done.
Preparation Required for Exterior Painting
The first step when prepping your house for painting does not involve the structure at all. You will want to cover all landscaping with tarps and tie back or trim any branches too close to the house.
Your next step of prep depends on the state of your home’s exterior. It might only require a scrub brush or broom and the recommended cleaner, or you may need to rent or purchase a pressure washer to get the job done. Remember to leave yourself at least two days of drying time before beginning to paint.
You also will need to cover and/or tape anything on or near the house not being painted. Lighting fixtures, AC units and the like all need protection. Cleaners and paint products can harm plant life and damage other items, and at the minimum create time-consuming cleanup tasks.
Next, you must remove any shutters from your home and close any open windows. You should also inspect the entire exterior of your home to ensure you do not need to repair any holes or cracks before getting starting. Sand all repairs and any loose paint. If you will be painting your windows, inspect putty and replace as necessary.
Professional painters perform all of the necessary prep work to ensure your exterior paint job lasts as long as possible. They also can do prep in a fraction of the time it would take you. This becomes an issue if you face wet weather in the area.
Note: If your home was built before 1978, it may be coated with lead paint. Working with it requires special safety and containment procedures. Professional painters hold certification from the Environmental Protection Agency, a requirement by law for doing this kind of work. In other words, if your home has lead paint, hire a professional.
Size of House = Size of Job
The cost and scope of all of the above, of course, depends on the size of your home. If you have a small bungalow, you might feel comfortable with the amount of prep and ladder work required. If you have a two- or three-story home, it will require a much larger investment of time and the use of extension ladders. Not everyone feels comfortable working so high off the ground. And if your home has many architectural features, that adds to the amount of time spent up on a ladder.
With a larger home, using a sprayer instead of brushes also makes sense. This tool also requires a fair amount of skill to use correctly, especially from a ladder. A professional painter can work quickly and get the job done safely.
Deciding to DIY or Hire a Professional
After considering your comfort level with all of the above, also think about cost and longevity. An exterior paint job should last five to 10 years, depending on the type of construction material, environment and quality of work. For many, it makes sense to hire professionals to ensure the work gets done well and will last as long as possible. A professional painter can do exactly that.
Add up the costs of all tools and supplies, and then add in the cost of your time to do it yourself - your time has a monetary value, after all, especially if you take vacation days to tackle the project. Then compare DIY costs to what a professional painter estimates for the work to make your final decision. Odds are, you will decide to hire a professional, and that’s okay.